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Being teachable

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In my 23 years of being an educator, I have come to realize, especially in this day and age, that while educators are caught in the flurry of teaching subjects, no one has ever actually taught students how to be teachable. Or it could also be that some tried to, but the intended results were not achieved for whatever reason. Being teachable is one of the most important lessons students must acquire.

Teaching and being teachable are two totally different things. As social media coordinator and podcaster Arina Titus puts it, “You can be taught how to read, but never actually obtain the ability of comprehension. You can be taught how to write, but may never know how to create imagery through words or articulate specific emotions through a simple sentence. You can be taught how to speak, but never know how to actually present yourself in a well manner and (right) conduct a powerful speech that any audience would willingly be engaged with.”

I very strongly agree with her when she said “to teach a subject is a lot simpler in comparison to teaching someone how to be teachable” because students (though not all) nowadays, resist being taught. If I may be brutally frank about this fact, they are quick to resist and manifest their disinterest in being taught, moreso, being corrected when they make mistakes.

An educator, no matter how patient and passionate he or she may be in sharing knowledge and skills, can never teach someone who thinks he knows everything. That is why, whenever my former students thank me for how I have helped prepare them for the challenges of the real world, my quick reply is always, “Thank you for allowing me to be a teacher to you”.

This brings me to my second point: without humility, one cannot be teachable because teachability equates to humility.  “The moment you think you know everything is the same moment you prove that you know nothing at all,” Titus emphasized.

If one cannot admit to himself and to others that he is not always right, and he refuses to understand that flaws in your thinking and the way you do things can exist, then he is incapable of acquiring essential lessons that one can get when he is teachable.

Admitting your own lack of knowledge and expertise in one area is creating room for learning. If an individual does not see a need for her to develop in one area, she won’t feel obligated to improve.

One who is teachable is open not only to learning but also to growth for being teachable is having a “built-in desire to constantly learn and improve in areas of knowledge and understanding.”

Pride takes away any opportunity for an individual to acquire higher-order thinking skills (HOT). Only those who have higher-order thinking skills are capable of analyzing and evaluating complex information, categorizing, manipulating and connecting facts, troubleshooting for solutions, understanding concepts and big picture thinking, ideating and developing insightful reasoning. Anyone who has studied or read about Bloom’s Taxonomy is familiar with HOT and understands its significance.

A person who is teachable does not get offended when his mistakes are corrected, or when help is offered in order to turn his weaknesses into strengths because someone who is teachable has a genuine desire to always want to understand things, recognize the fact that one must understand how things are and how things must be done in order for him to correctly perform a task, sharpen a skill and master a craft.

Critique is a critical part of one’s learning and development process because critiques or crits, are normal and necessary part of the learning process which allows the learner to get constructive feedback quickly. Crits provide feedback so that individuals will know which areas or aspects of his work he needs to improve, how else can he explore his craft and how he can bring his opus to a higher level.

But then, not too many people, especially students, are comfortable being critiqued. Most people tend to take offense when their work is critiqued. This attitude prevents one not only from improving but also from innovating because he is not teachable. He cannot accept how important evaluation and appraisal are to enhancing a design or improving a skill. You cannot establish value in something unless it is assessed and evaluated objectively and honestly.

Again, BE TEACHABLE. For even the masters have their work examined, go under the scrutiny of the meanest of critics because they recognize how helpful assessments are in identifying their shortcomings, so that they can turn these shortcomings into strengths.

Great leaders are teachable. Being teachable is an important leadership skill. Psychologist Dr. Mara Klemich in her blog re-emphasized that effective leaders are humble because they are teachable. “Humility demonstrates a stronger character than ego and pride,” Klemich stressed.*

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